Fragging corals because they’ve gotten too large and in need of a trim is one of the most rewarding reasons to propagate a coral from your reef tank. Beyond just gluing the cut coral pieces to frag plugs, there’s lots of fun ways to be creative with what you glue your corals onto, ceramic rocks, statues, and magnetic frag shapes can all add a little extra pizzaz to your coral propagation process.
Many reefers have considered what it would be like to glue live coral frags to old coral skeletons but we decided to take the idea one step further by gluing frags of a large staghorn Acro colony to its own dead skeleton. This interesting strain of unidentified Acropora is an Australian hobby frag we got from Gallery Aquatica called ‘Derek’s Indecision’ – no idea what’s behind the name – that we fell in love with due to its thick branches, blue purple coloration with brighter blue tips, and shaggy polyps which sometime exhibit a subtle green colored mouth.
We have multiple colonies and large frags spread out throughout our tanks and earlier this year, one particularly large specimen started exhibiting slow tissue loss at the base despite retaining actively growing branches. Instead of lamenting the slow motion recession of tissue in the base, we made the boss call to cut off the good parts of the colony and retain the base for a future recolonization with this coral strain’s own living frags.
Over the past couple months a different larger colony has been reaching towards the water surface of our shallow coral flats and we decided to pull the trigger and cut it down to a more manageable size. Instead of gluing these large branches to their own bases or plugs which would each need to be placed somewhere and managed it was time to put our grafting plan into motion and share the process with a thorough tutorial/demonstration video.
Sometimes us reefers have crazy hair-brained ideas that fail spectacularly when put into motion but thankfully, the recycling of the legacy coral skeleton and grafting live tissue of the same coral was firmly in the opposite category. With careful cutting and precise placement the new large branches look like a perfect extension of the legacy skeleton of Derek’s Indecision staghorn and all corals involved in this procedure responded well and had excellent polyp extension just hours afterwards.
The grafted coral experiment turned out and looks very good and with this success we’re encouraged to perform even more out of the box coral fragging which we’ll be sure to document for your viewing pleasure in future videos.